Today I finished watching Eden of the East, as well as the two movies. Spoilers potentially ahead, so be aware. Eden of the East is a series about Akira Takizawa, one of nine people chosen by a mysterious “Mr. Outside” to be given 10 billion yen and a concierge named Juiz to answer every request, and tasked with saving the nation of Japan. Should they fail, they will lose their lives. It is mostly from the point of view of Saki Morimi, a young girl who finds Takizawa naked outside the White House, with nothing but a gun and a cellphone. He has no memories, and must navigate the game of the Selecao, with the help of Saki and her friends, to successfully save Japan and his own life.
The concept behind this anime is a very thought-provoking one. What would 12 random strangers do, given a huge amount of money and a task to fix the nation? The Selecao seem to be picked specifically from diverse backgrounds. There is a bureaucrat, a model, a rich kid, and Takizawa, who was selling newspapers from a bike when he was chosen. Predictably, they all have dramatically different ways by which they think they can save the nation. Seeing an anime that actually challenges the audience to think about these concepts is very refreshing. What could 12 people with 10 billion yen each do to save the world? What could 100 million people do with one yen each? Eden of the East explores concepts such as the recent phenomenon of Hikikomori, or NEETS: shut-ins who are not currently engaged in training, education, or work. The gap between the youth and those in power is also highlighted, as well as the impact of social media on our culture. They also present the idea that regardless of what extreme events happen, life tends to return to the status quo depressingly quickly. When all is said and done by the end of the second movie, the efforts of all those who participated in the games has remarkably little lasting effect. But the anime also seems to imply that however small the change, it is nonetheless important.
The art style is very appealing in Eden of the East, and the characters are well-developed and interesting. In the second movie in particular, we get to see how Juiz’s personality has adjusted to the personality of each Selecao. The show will really make you think. As far as the female characters go, it’s a little disappointing. Aside from Saki, whose purpose seems to be to assist and support Takizawa, the females in the show seem to fade to the background. It would pass the Bedchel test, I think, because of brief conversations Saki has with her sister regarding getting a job, but the rest of the series revolves around Takizawa. There are two other women on the Eden of the East team, one of which is a computer expert, but it doesn’t seem as though as much effort was put into developing their characters. Still, at the end, Saki shows enough courage to not allow Takizawa to leave on her again without showing him how she feels. It is unfortunate that one of the only two female Selecao (and the only one to actually play the game) goes about her task by systematically mutilating and killing men who are convicted sex offenders because she was once attacked herself.
It seems like they chose a convenient and stereotypical way to explore what a woman’s solution to changing the world might be, and sacrificed a potentially more interesting and thought-provoking alternative.
I’ve come to accept that every anime is going to have its WTF moment, and with this show, it’s Johnnies. In one episode, Takizawa meets these odd, skeletal, gooey creatures that he calls Johnnies. We never find out what they are. EVER. Seriously, if there is some layered symbolism here with these, someone
let me know, because I have NO IDEA. Johnnies are a recurring theme, because the show seems a little obsessed with dicks. We even have “The Johnny Stalker,” a women who cuts off men’s dicks. Takizawa refers to his army of NEETs as Johnnies. And they all walk around naked. Overall, I would recommend that anyone watch this show. It’s very interesting and intelligent, and it will leave you thinking for quite a while. Great animation means that it’s also a treat to watch, and at 11 episodes and two movies, it’s not that much of a commitment. Give it a watch!